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Works Thomas Girtin

A Farmhouse, Said to Be near Newcastle upon Tyne


Primary Image: TG1704: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Farmhouse, Said to Be near Newcastle upon Tyne, 1800, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 31.5 × 46.9 cm, 12 ⅜ × 18 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive, PA-F03344-0105 (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Farmhouse, Said to Be near Newcastle upon Tyne
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
31.5 × 46.9 cm, 12 ⅜ × 18 ½ in

‘Girtin 1800’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Durham and Northumberland; Picturesque Vernacular

A Farmhouse, Said to Be near Newcastle-upon-Tyne (TG1084)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
191iii as 'Cottages near Newcastle'
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue; Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive


Possibly bought by Peter Bluett (1767–1843) of Holcombe Court, Devon; then by descent to Peter Frederick Bluett (1806–84); Holcombe Court bought by the Revd William Rayer (1786–1866), 1858; his collection by descent to Revd. George Morganig William Thomas Jenkins (1879–1952); acquired by Gooden & Fox Ltd., 1936; Fine Art Society, London; Gavin Astor, 2nd Baron Astor of Hever (1918-84); his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 10 July 1984, lot 204, £1,728 as 'Cottages near Newcastle'

Exhibition History

Fine Art Society, 1937, no.25

About this Work

This faded watercolour depicts a farmhouse that has variously been described as being near Hereford, Norwich, and, more recently, Newcastle upon Tyne, though on what grounds the latter location has been arrived at is unclear. The composition is known in another variant, with two cows and a couple replacing the children shown here (TG1084), and each version, in turn, was very probably the subject of a copy by an unknown artist (see figure 1 and TG1084 figure 1 respectively). Both of the watercolours have been described as showing cottages, whereas the figures and the animals suggest that we are looking at a farmhouse, though whether this was originally studied from nature cannot be determined. However, I suspect that even if the buildings themselves were based on a scene from nature, the landscape setting, which more resembles a country park, was improvised and is unlikely to have anything to do with a subject viewed on the artist’s only known visit to the Newcastle area in 1796.

One possible reason for the association of the view with Newcastle is that it came from the collection at Holcombe Court in Devon, which included another work showing the Tyneside town (TG1082) along with eight other watercolours by Girtin. Following the discovery of the collection in the 1930s by Paul Oppé (1878–1957), Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) concluded that they were acquired by the owner of the house during Girtin’s life, Peter Bluett (1767–1863), though equally they might have been bought by a member of the family of the Revd William Rayer (1786–1866), who bought the property in 1858 (Girtin Archive, 26). Whichever the case, it is unlikely that the first owner was a direct patron of Girtin in the traditional sense. The very disparate group – in terms of size, subject and function – was presumably collected after the artist’s death, rather than being commissions, and some, at least, were no doubt bought from the artist’s representative, Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835), who acted on behalf of the artist in his final years in a role somewhere between agent and dealer. This work thus conforms to the smaller of the two standard sizes that the artist supplied to Reynolds for sale on the open market, and the existence of a very good copy, which may even have been produced by Reynolds himself (see figure 1), supports this theory. The fact that the watercolour is prominently signed and dated also suggests this to be the case, as this was the first year of Girtin and Reynolds’ relationship, and it is one of more than thirty works inscribed ‘1800’. This is significant because until that year the artist had never dated more than one or two of his watercolours per year, and it appears that the change in Girtin’s practice was governed by the need to prove to the market that his agent was not hawking old, unsold stock.

A Farmhouse, Said to Be near Newcastle upon Tyne

The second version of the farm scene (see figure 1), which features two children at the door, is, if anything, even more grievously faded. However, although this has no doubt distorted the issue, it is reasonably clear that this is a contemporary full-size copy of the signed and dated work from the collection formerly at Holcombe, and not an autograph watercolour by Girtin. The work may have been catalogued by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak as an earlier version of Girtin’s composition, dating from 1798, and it appeared in the nineteenth century in a series of exhibitions as by the artist (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.160). However, more recently, the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, has listed it online as an early nineteenth-century copy, encouraged presumably by the reappearance of the signed and dated original watercolour at a sale in 1984 (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 10 July 1984, lot 204).

(?) 1800

A Farmhouse, Said to Be near Newcastle-upon-Tyne


(?) 1800

A Farmhouse, Said to Be near Newcastle-upon-Tyne


1799 - 1800



by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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